Why have a Fourth of July weekend festival that celebrates both cars and airplanes?
Ask Kim Fisher that, and she’ll look at you like you’re a child.
“It’s part of the Freedom Fair, right?” she said. “There’s freedom in both — the freedom to fly, the freedom to drive.”
That’s the essential premise of Wings & Wheels, Pierce County’s annual celebration of fast machines, held at and above the Tacoma Narrows Airport.
Wings & Wheels is a companion festival to the July 4 Freedom Fair along Ruston Way, and it features not only aerial acrobatics, but also buffed-up vintage cars and pickup trucks.
Fisher, who lives in Spanaway, is OK with the airplanes, but she thinks of them mostly as a sideshow at Wings & Wheels.
She barely notices the Ace Maker T-33 Shooting Star, the Cobra helicopter and the P-51D Mustang.
Her passion is big Dodge muscle cars, especially her husband’s 1966 Polara. “It’s a smooth ride but still muscular,” she said. “It has power.”
“There’s nothing like the roar of the engine of a Mopar,” she said. “There’s really nothing else like it.”
(For the uninitiated, “Mopar” translates roughly to “Chrysler product.”)
More than 2,000 people attended this year’s show, which is sponsored by the Tacoma Events Commission in conjunction with the Pierce County Airport and Ferry Division and the city of Gig Harbor.
They strolled among the cars, breathed in fumes of aviation fuel and chowed down on hot dogs, lemonade, shaved ice and Philly cheese steak.
Unlike Thursday’s air show, Wings & Wheels lets people see the planes up close and even meet the pilots.
Will Allen, an aerial acrobat who splits his time between Renton and Tucson, Ariz., was one of the stars of the show.
After a seemingly impossible series of high-speed twists, turns and spinning dives, Allen taxied his red-and-white biplane along the flight line, waving to the crowd like an athlete on a victory lap.
Later, he hung with fans next to his plane, posing with little kids, getting them to grin and do a thumbs-up for their moms and dads snapping photos.
One little boy, wearing goggle-style glasses and clearly starstruck, asked him, “How fast were you going?”
“Pretty fast,” Allen said. “I had it up around 220 miles an hour. My hair was flying back the whole time.”
Allen is on to the freedom thing. “The freedom of flying is unmatchable,” he said. “It’s awesome.”
But talking to children afterward is also important.
“Basically, we’re trying to impress kids with this,” he said.
“I hope what I’m doing inspires them to follow their passions — no matter what they are,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be flying.”
“I hope it makes them want to reach for what their passion is and really go for it full bore.”Rob Carson: 253-597-8693 email@example.com